Questions Of Cash: I've been fleeced by my local phone shop


Q. In September 2006, I signed a 12-month contract with T-Mobile, through Mobile Connections, which provided me with two handsets, with 500 free minutes for each handset. I had to pay £35 monthly by direct debit. This was to be refunded to me each month, providing I presented a paid bill to their Birmingham shop, within 28 days of the date of billing. Three months later, I took a friend to Mobile Connections, but his account application was declined. Mobile Connections suggested I process his application using my bank account, with the staff pointing out that my money was not at risk as the money would be refunded to my account. He took up an 18-month contract with T-Mobile, with £35 taken from my account each month, to be refunded on the same conditions as with my account.

In June, I signed two more accounts with Mobile Connections. From June last year, I visited the Mobile Connections shop more than a hundred times to present my bills as per the contract terms, but the shop was always closed. I have not had any refunds since May last year. I wanted to take out a court case against Mobile Connections, but I was told that I would have to pay £350 to have the case processed. I am an international student at Aston University, must pay £8,500 tuition fees and I have to cover my living expenses. I cannot afford to lose this money. I thought the UK did not have companies like this. AL, Birmingham.



A. Sadly, not only does the UK have businesses like Mobile Connections, but there have been many of them. Dial a Mobile Ltd, which traded as Mobile Connections, ceased trading last August. Birmingham City Council's trading standards department has been in active discussion with the owners of the business, but expects the company to go into administration. It is unlikely that its many customers who, like you, are owed money will receive much, if anything. Detailed advice is provided by Birmingham trading standards on its website, www.birming ham.gov.uk. Mobile Connections is one of numerous mobile phone retailers that have closed down, after offering attractive cash back offers. The assumption by most of them was that a large proportion of customers would not comply with the conditions attached to the cash-back offer. In practice, a lot of customers claimed the cash backs – and many retailers did not make enough profit to meet the volume of claims.



Q. I have just received a card reader from Nationwide for my online banking. The reader is used with my debit card to verify my PIN number, then I am given a one-off code to login online. But what is to stop anyone getting this type of reader and using it to fraudulently find out the PIN of a debit card they have obtained illegally? There is no limit on how many times the PIN can be checked and it can be done at home rather than the limited access and public forum of using an ATM, or shop-located chip/PIN card reader. LW, Thetford



A. Your assumption is wrong – you are given just three goes to input the correct PIN, as you are with a cash machine. Nationwide's spokesman Roy Beale explains: "The new Card Reader Security introduced for our FlexAccount Visa debit card customers adds an extra layer of protection when carrying out certain transactions online, such as third-party payments. The card reader works in an identical way to a shop-located chip and PIN card reader. However, the customer's sign-on details – including user name and memorable data – are also needed to access Nationwide's Internet Banking facilities.

The Card Reader Security uses the customer's FlexAccount Visa debit card and PIN to generate a unique eight-digit passcode to validate transactions. The customer has three attempts to get the PIN right and, if inputted incorrectly three times, the card will be locked to prevent anyone making multiple attempts to guess the number."



Q. I recently returned from a holiday in Canada. As usual when I go abroad, I did not take local currency, but went to an ATM on arrival to draw cash, using my Visa debit card. But on this occasion I received a message saying my card issuer, Alliance & Leicester, would not authorise the transaction. I then emailed A&L to say that I was in Canada and would it unblock my card. Instead, A&L told me I must go into a bank to withdraw funds and that my card could not be used in local cashpoints.

This was very inconvenient as this was a Sunday, I had no Canadian dollars and I was staying a long distance from a bank, without a car. It was several days before I could get any money. A&L tell me the card was blocked for security reasons and that it would have worked if I had attempted to make a small withdrawal. When I complained, A&L said that it did not spell out this advice to customers, also for security reasons. TG, London.



A. A&L confirms that the information you were given is correct. It makes the reasonable point that "dealing with fraud whilst providing customers with information that could not be exploited by fraudsters is a difficult balance to strike". We agree with that, but banks need to stress that customers should notify their bank when they intend to travel abroad. It is also important for customers to know the limit of what they may withdraw.

A&L says that customers may only withdraw £50 a day from an overseas ATM – whether or not a customer notifies they are going abroad. It is considering ways that this information can be made more explicit, without breaching security. "The difficulty we have is that any information on specific limits on withdrawals in different parts of the world can change on a regular basis, rendering any previous guidance out of date," adds A&L's spokesman, Steve Gracey. But, in any case, a £50 daily withdrawal limit seems to us unrealistic and likely to cause considerable customer inconvenience.

Questions of Cash cannot give individual advice. Please do not send original documents. Write to: Questions of Cash, The Independent, 191 Marsh Wall, London E14 9RS; cash@independent.co.uk.

Independent Partners; Do you need financial advice on your investments, pension or insurance? Book a free consultation with an independent Financial Adviser at VouchedFor.co.uk

Life and Style
A monstrous idea? Body transplants might no longer be science fiction
Science An Italian neurosurgeon believes so - and it's not quite as implausible as it sounds, says Steve Connor
Sport
Demba Ba (right) celebrates after Besiktas win on penalties
footballThere was no happy return to the Ataturk Stadium, where the Reds famously won Champions League
Arts and Entertainment
Natural beauty: Aidan Turner stars in the new series of Poldark
arts + ents
News
Mia Freedman, editorial director of the Mamamia website, reads out a tweet she was sent.
arts + ents
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
The write stuff: masters of story-telling James Joyce, left, and Thomas Hardy
arts + ents...begging to differ, John Walsh can't even begin to number the ways
News
Image from a flyer at the CPAC event where Nigel Farage will be speaking
news
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Recruitment Genius: Telesales / Marketing Executive - B2B - OTE £25,000

    £17000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity to join this new...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £18000 - £21000 per annum + OTE £45,000: SThree: SThree Group have been well e...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45,000: SThree: SThree Group have been well e...

    Recruitment Genius: Business Control Manager

    £36000 - £44000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Encouraging more businesses to ...

    Day In a Page

    HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

    Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

    Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
    How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

    Time to play God

    Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
    MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

    MacGyver returns, but with a difference

    Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
    Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

    Tunnel renaissance

    Why cities are hiding roads underground
    'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

    Boys to men

    The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
    Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

    Crufts 2015

    Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
    10 best projectors

    How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

    Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
    Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

    Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

    Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
    Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

    Monaco: the making of Wenger

    Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

    Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

    Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

    This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
    'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

    Homage or plagiarism?

    'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
    Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower